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  HOME | Argentina

Argentines Demand Justice for Man ‘Disappeared’ by Police



BUENOS AIRES – Hundreds of political activists and human rights campaigners marched in the Argentine capital on Thursday to demand justice for a man found dead three months after he was stopped at a police checkpoint.

Facundo Astudillo Castro, 22, was last alive on April 30, the day he was stopped by Buenos Aires provincial police while driving to the coastal city of Bahia Blanca, 574 kilometers (357 miles) south of the capital city.

After he failed to reach his destination and efforts to contact him were unsuccessful, the family reported Astudillo missing and authorities treated the case as a forced disappearance.

On Wednesday, authorities informed his mother, Cristina Castro, that a body found on Aug. 15 in a canal in Villarino, next to Bahia Blanca, was that of Facundo.

Participants in Thursday’s mobilization made their way to the Plaza de Mayo, opposite the presidential palace, where speakers read a statement demanding the resignation of the Buenos Aires provincial security minister, Sergio Berni.

“Justice and Punishment for the Guilty. Berni Out Now,” protesters chanted as Astudillo’s family prepared to lay him to rest in his hometown of Pedro Luro, 124 km (77 mi.) from Bahia Blanca.

Astudillo was stopped by police within the framework of the quarantine measures implemented across Argentina to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Since the start of the restrictions on March 20, 102 people have been “murdered by the repressive state apparatus,” according to organizers of Thursday’s march.

The representative in South America of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jan Jarab, said on Thursday that he was very disturbed to learn that Astudillo was found dead.

“From UN Human Rights, we call on the Argentine authorities to act with urgency to clarify the causes of the death of Facundo, as well the circumstances of his disappearance,” the Czech diplomat said.

Similar appeals have come from a number of Argentine human rights organizations, including the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group founded during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, which killed some 30,000 people in the course of a “dirty war” against the left.

 

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